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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Allentown Lawyer Sentenced for His Role in Pay-to-Play Scheme With Allentown Mayor


PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Allentown attorney Scott Allinson, 55, was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison. In March, a federal jury convicted Allinson on conspiracy and bribery charges.  Evidence presented at trial showed that Allinson and others engaged in a pay-to-play scheme with Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski to trade campaign contributions for the City of Allentown’s legal work. United States District Judge Juan Sanchez accepted the government’s recommendation and ordered that Allinson be taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals immediately following the sentencing proceeding.

The jury heard numerous recorded conversations in which Allinson revealed his personal financial stake in the conspiracy.  One particularly telling conversation occurred on February 3, 2015, and involved Allinson, Michael Fleck, and Sam Ruchlewicz, two of Pawlowski’s political consultants at the time.  In that meeting, Allinson pitched the idea that his firm would get legal work from the City and Allinson would receive billing credit for it, and in return, Allinson would ensure political contributions flowed to Mayor Pawlowski. Through secretly recorded tapes, the jury heard Allinson’s own words—unvarnished, raw, and explicit—and the jury found his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt:

“If I get a hundred percent of the [billing] credit that turns into money, [and] that goes out of my checkbook where you want it to go. So, if it [work] comes to me and I get billing credit, then I get the full stack of cash . . . to do with it what I need to do, annually. Do you know what I’m saying to you? If it goes to anyone else but me, it will get [expletive].”

Later in that conversation, Ruchlewicz and Allinson further nailed down the quid pro quo: Ruchlewicz advised that Mayor Pawlowski wanted a $10,000 contribution from Allinson for the year, and Allinson responded, “That’s easy.”  Ruchlewicz then assured Allinson, “All the work will come to you. The work will be yours.”  In several other recorded conversations, the jury heard further evidence that Pawlowski, Ruchlewicz, and Allinson understood what was at stake and understood the link between political contributions and legal work.

“This particular brand of criminal behavior is a cancer on our system of laws.  Political corruption erodes the public’s trust in government and elected officials,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “It is our job to find it and stop it, which is exactly what we did in this case. This defendant cast aside the virtues of hard work and honest pay in favor of an easy buck, and it earned him a well-deserved spot in a prison cell.”

"Scott Allinson saw no problem scoring legal work through blatantly illegal means," said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. "Every dirty dollar that he funneled to Edwin Pawlowski as a quid pro quo deepened the culture of corruption in Allentown City Hall, and cheapened the role of the mayor's office. Cases like this only fuel the FBI's commitment to tackling public corruption."

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and Pennsylvania State Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Morgan and Anthony Wzorek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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